By CIDNIE SYDNEY-BREWINGTON | Staff Writer
SGA senators passed Resolution 8 by a 17-0 vote with six abstaining Wednesday, March 16. The Resolution impacts Tennessee State House Bill HB 2014 and “supports current state policy prohibiting the possession of firearms on campus and strongly opposes any legislation that would later the current policy.”
HB 2014 was submitted Thursday, Feb. 17, and has not yet been is passed. The bill summary states it “authorizes full-time faculty and staff at any public postsecondary institution in Tennessee, who are not otherwise prohibited by law, to carry handguns at all times on the premises of the public institution where they are employed.”
In order for faculty and staff to carry guns they must complete at least eight hours of firearm training or already have a valid handgun permit. The University Policy Committee presented SGA President Kenny Kennedy with the bill for SGA senators to discuss.
“The issue here is it’s a way to get SGA or APSU to have a side on the issue. From my research, there are not a lot of universities doing this. APSU would be one of the first universities to take a side,” Kennedy said. Contrary to the established process of passing a resolution, SGA had to vote on the issue that day to be one of the first universities to take a stance. Under Robert’s Rules of Order, to pass a resolution a senator first proposes legislation and the voting body then has one week to think on it and gather student feedback. However, there is an exception to the rule.
“I’m not trying to rush through it [the process], I just want to move quickly on the issue,” Kennedy said. “We suspended Robert’s Rules in the past on legislation that otherwise would not have gone through.”
After a vote of 18-3 with two abstained, the motion to suspend Robert’s Rules was adopted and the proposal was up for discussion.
“There is no need for guns because there are police on campus. [Having guns in the classroom] will cause problems with academic freedom in the classroom,” said Senator Jesse Brewer, co-proposer of the legislation along with Senator Jonathan Jeans. “Senator Jeans and I are simply opposing this [HB 2014]. We are in favor of the current policy.”
The current policy states anything perceived to cause bodily harm is prohibited, including firearms, which are prohibited by the state.
Not all senators were on board with deciding the official stance in one day. They called for more research, including gathering student body feedback, and to become up-to-date on gun laws.
“As a staff member, I am not in favor. I have dealt with this before.
“Our service is for students, and having weapons on campus is not in service of the student,” said Gregory Singleton, Dean of Students and SGA adviser. TAS